Emerging Technologies & Their Ripple Effect Across Business Education & Beyond

Tom Robinson (President & CEO) & Elliot Davis (Senior Coordinator - Research), AACSB InternationalRobinson is responsible for the organization's board & global network of staff, members, and volunteers to foster engagement, accelerate innovation, and amplify impact in business education.

An alumnus of University of Tampa, Sykes College of Business, Elliot is a part of the team that contributes to the expansion of the association's research portfolio.

Students today, globally and within India, are exiting senior secondary schools with an expo-sure and understanding of a wide range of tools designed to enhance learning. They engage with both peers and teachers through mobile devices, submit coursework online, and in some cases, prefer to complete a full curriculum of study virtually. As a new `digital generation' of learners - sometimes referred to as millennials or Generation Z - they are discovering in a different fashion than those who came before. In most cases, it behooves them to do so, as the shifting market will require a much more agile workforce.

The ripples created from this new generation's arrival, coupled with certain market forces, has changed the way that higher education is conducted globally ­ requiring institutions to rethink how they will remain current with the evolving demands of both business and students alike. Similarly, the impact that changing technologies have on today's students are not limited to just the classroom. Cascading transformations are occurring within business, and the nature of work itself is shifting. With this, the shift is felt across all kinds of jobs, industries, organizations, and roles.

In 2013, the University of Oxford produced a study that ranked more than 700 occupations and weighed the likelihood that functions within could be automated due to emerging technological replacements (i.e., robots, computer software, and so on). Across this list, roles such as telemarketers, tax preparers, and even sports officials were identified as having a 99 percent likelihood of becoming automated. Researchers also identified that jobs which were least likely to be impacted were those that required a significant human element. Among those were professions in healthcare and social assistances, as well as educational services, which were given a less than one percent chance for automation.

A more recent study conducted in 2017 by McKinsey & Company found that less than five percent of current occupations consist of activities that can be fully automated. But in 60 percent of all occupations, up to one-third of basic activities could ultimately be automated. Globally, activities with a technical aspect that have the potential for automation touch of 1.2 billion employees, of which the largest percentages are accounted for by four countries: Japan, India, China, and the U.S. For India itself, the automation potential is 52 percent of more than 452
million employees available. As a result, most occupations are going to change significantly even if they are not totally automated. Given the scale of that kind of impact, it is evident that automation will have a very real influence on the future nature of work.

Technology has also changed the makeup of the workforce itself. Historically, Indian workers would have to leave home to pursue opportunities abroad or in the major urban areas, they would have to spend most of their day in commute. Similarly, companies could only source employees from a limited distance, and had to fulfill their hiring needs through local candidates. Today, there is a growing virtual workforce comprised of employees available for work online, as well as opportunities that allow for a portion (or even all) of a job to be fulfilled remotely. As discovered in a 2016 survey hosted by Randstad, if given the option, 53 percent of Indian professionals would prefer to telecommute. At the same time, there is also a small digital workforce behind the scenes that consists of robots and various algorithms, which have effectively replaced persons from such roles in the traditional workforce.

Business schools must be well poised to serve the generations of current workers who, to compete, need a bit of reskilling or upskilling of their talents to be fully effective in the marketplace

With businesses embracing these technologies, along with the efficiencies they confer, business schools must make strides in their efforts to be leaders amongst educators. As work itself changes, it is our role as educators and the longest standing accreditation body, to ensure what is being taught in the classroom will enable learners for success. As identified in AACSB's 2016 report, A Collective Vision For Business Education, it is critical for higher education to be forward thinking. Outlined within, AACSB emphasized several opportunities where business schools must advance to remain relevant in the future. One of such opportunities was for business schools to transform into hubs of lifelong learning. As a hub of lifelong learning, an institution should be well-positioned to serve the needs of a growing workforce. As referenced earlier, this work-force could be individuals displaced by automation, or simply those that need to refresh their skills to remain current in today's technologies or business acumen.

In an effort to better understand how technology might impact business education and higher education in general, AACSB's Innovation Committee identified several technologies which hold the potential to disrupt or enhance the education industry. Consisting of business school leaders and business practice executives from around the world, the Committee did a deep landscape scan and identified several technologies that have the potential to disrupt or enhance our industry. Stemming from their expertise, AACSB created technologies with potential to trans-form business and business education series, which includes briefing papers on artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, mobile and micro-learning. A fourth is also currently under development related to blockchain.

Across these briefs, we have seen that faculty are leveraging new technologies in creative ways. Virtual reality is being used to simulate boardroom discussions, and artificial intelligence is being used to implement adaptive learning software - each of which can customize the learning experience for students. Concurrent, micro-learning will enable students to take full courses entirely from their mobile devices, allowing them to engage in their studies anytime, anywhere. All these enhancements are designed to not only appeal to the digital generation, but to prepare them for a workforce which also is making significant use of such tools. Here, the up-and-coming technological generation is pushing higher education and society to advance in ways that are traditionally not known, but are ways where higher education can excel.

Across this, business education is well positioned to serve as a growing market. As those in the digital generation arrive in our classrooms, and exit into the workforce, it is inevitable that the adaptations already underway will continue. Behind the `digital generation', there is another group of early learners who are experiencing technology at even younger ages, and who will continue to shift our understanding of what a learning experience should be. In parallel, business schools must be well poised to serve the generations of current workers who, to compete, need a bit of reskilling or upskilling of their talents to be fully effective in the marketplace.